Thursday, April 30, 2009


I like this story very much! :-)

A group of frogs were traveling through the woods, and
two of them fell into a deep pit. When the other frogs saw how
deep the pit was, they told the two frogs that they were as
good as dead. The two frogs ignored the comments and tried
to jump up out of the pit with all their might. The other frogs
kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead.
Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs
were saying and gave up. He fell down and died.

The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could.
Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain
and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out.
When he got out, the other frogs said, "Did you not hear us?"
The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they
were encouraging him the entire time.

This story teaches two lessons:

1. There is power of life and death in the tongue. An
encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up
and help them make it through the day.

2. A destructive word to someone who is down can be
what it takes to kill them.

Be careful of what you say. Speak life to those who cross
your path. The power of words... it is sometimes hard to
understand that an encouraging word can go such a long way.

Anyone can speak words that tend to rob another of the spirit
to continue in difficult times. Special is the individual who will
take the time to encourage another.
-- Author Unknown

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pastors Notes for 3 May 09

Just posted up my weekly Pastor's Notes.

It's some reflections on another chapter from Alex Tang's book "Spiritual Formation on the Run" - Omission and commission reflections.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ramblings on Kiwi made preaching forum - 4

Had a lot of positive response to my last Sunday's sermon. More than usual so I am "chuffed" and motivated to do some more reflection on sermons and preaching before I blog on the preaching forum ...

For the curious my topic was "Samson: A good bad example". I love narrative preaching and I felt a look at Samson's life would be something beneficial to my congregation (self included) due to some interesting church developments. I am so glad that I decided to preach that sermon. I found out too that I need to spend more time in choosing how I word my sermon titles. The sermon title in itself I discovered helped stir up interest in the sermon (among other things). My Good Friday sermon "The stewardship of pain" (a title inspired by Frederick Buchener) had a similar effect and one church member mentioned this to me a few times already and how she is still thinking about the sermon contents and how the title helped.

Hmmm... And in 2 weeks I will be preaching for mothers Day and my sermon is entitled "Moses had two mothers". ... and it seems to be generating a bit of interest. I wonder ... is this due to the "marketing" culture we live in? Interestingly comments on the titles are from a wide spectrum of people. ...

Ok ... back to the preaching fourm. The workshop I enjoyed the most was by an American lady Dr. Lynne Baab who is the Jack Somerville Lecturer in Pastoral Theology at the University of Otago. (BTW, I have no idea who Jack Somerville is!). Her topic was: "How can being "visual" in the sermon include something more than using the data projector."

I guess she was invited even though she was not Kiwi because she lectures in NZ. Whatever ... I am glad she was invited. Basically her goal was to help us preachers and preacher wannabes move from just using ppt (words) and images (pictures) on the screen, flowers or banners to more creative stuff. I liked her approach as she was not just trying to promote using more creative means for the sake of being different etc, for "surprise value" (as is sometimes the case) but as a genuinely helpful way to communicate truth.

Things she touched on (oh sadly so briefly as we had so little time!) ... props, costumes, role play, drawings, chalk art ... making words alive (metaphors and stories). I suppose it is nothing new (at least to me) but very motivational for me to rethink about using these mediums and resources. I guess I have been very cautious as I do not want to be seen as rocking the boat etc. But I think that here at KCC, there has been enough time for me to have built a decent level of trust and acceptance so I think by the end of the year I will slowly build in more "visuals" into my Sunday sermons. I am given a lot more freedom when it comes to outreach meetings or children's meetings etc - that isn't a problem..

But as I reflect back on 2 years of preaching here, I actually have had very postive feedback when I used a magic effect (multiplying dollar bills) in a Sunday sermon on monetary stewardship and tithing. Also 2 Good Friday services where Scripture reading was intertwined with art images were well received. Some videos during Lord's Supper were also well recieved ... Hmmm... perhaps the concerns were more due to my own insecurities? Oh yes, and showing a section of Bruce Kuhn's "Gospel of Luke" dramatic recitation was very well received.

Anyway ... I have some plans ... next school holiday time when SS is closed ... I am planning to do some children's sermons (for adults too) and do something like my "Brother John" series of stories, and object lessons ... Perhaps an occasion for a short 2 man drama show ending with a monologue sermon? I have always wanted to do a monological preaching on a Sunday morning. Last time I did a monologue was at PJGH as the climax of Sean and Benjamin Low's "The Price 2". Man, that was so long ago....

Oh, she did not cover monlogues (looked at my notes and saw that it was under my personal notations). *for those who are unaware, I have a form of interacting note taking where I mix my thoughts with that of whoever is lecturing or speaking but I put in special annotations so I know that it is mine not the lecturers. Would hate to attribute unfairly years down the road one of my random thoughts to someone else.

Ah I decided after the forum to cut down the length of my ppt notes and ... lo and behold I got good feedback too. (I am a ppt abuser :-))

I guess another reason I enjoyed her workshop was due to her reminder of the large amount of metaphors found in the Bible as well as her advice on using active verbs, sensory details and allowing your own personality to be an integral part of the sermon. I actually know all this ... my first preaching lecturer back at MBS (Andrew Lim) pushed us hard to pay a lot of attention to the right choice of words and verbs etc.

But here in NZ, I have been a bit more careful (until last Sunday ... when I let out a lot more of my personality on the pulpit via the sermon ... I guess it was also easier when it is narrative preaching). But Is till think I need to be very careful because of not my accent can be a hindrance and by letting too much of my personality come through would not be sensitive to an international congregation.

(BTW, Dr. Paul Windsor, if you are checking in on this post to gather more feedback ... I did try to e-mail you via your website (twice) but I am not sure the email was sent. Anyway, if Langham Trust NZ organises another preaching seminar, you should try and locate Andrew Lim and check him out. He is a pastor in Palmerston North.)

It would be fun if I every got the chance to meet Dr. Baab again and show her a different dimension of the use of visual props (i.e Gospel magic). I know this would be something new to her as we discussed this a little in between another session.

Ok back to my sermon preparation (have a few to work on)

a rambling random catching up post

Haven't posted for a few days. Been busy la :-)

Also somehow been feeling rather tired of late. By 9 PM or so I find that I start to get drowsy and when I do sleep I have been finding that I wake up still feeling drowsy and have to force myself to get up (even though it wasn't a deep sleep). I suspect that it is because the sunrise is not as early anymore now that it is already mid autumn.

We put in a ventilation system (DVS) in our house a few weeks ago. We have been saving since July (when we bought our house) for a heat pump but decided that a DVS would be better value for money and more relevant to our house needs. Our house is pretty cooling in summer (we have lots of windows that can open wide unlike our previous place) and it is not that cold either. But moisture / condensation has been a bigger problem (esp with a certain son's room) and two of us in the house have dust mite / dust allergies. So DVS it was ... and we are pretty pleased with it.

Next on our to consider getting list (which will mean a lot more saving) is whether we should try and trade in my beloved Toyota Corolla for a MPV or station wagon. Leg room issue is one big factor as the boys are now so tall. A second is that the car is really pretty low (due to the cool bucket seats) and it is very hard for older people when I take them around. And the third is the lousy turning circle and the fact that being a "low car" it is difficult to see some sides of the car. The fourth of course is that we hope that in Dec-Jan to go for a family holiday with my mum and it is not the most comfortable car for 5 people due to the bucket seats. But I do love the car and it is in really good shape (even the exterior paint job despite being a white car - still shiney!)

Andrew has got a part time job .... at McDonalds. God is good as it is recession time but the local Kelston McD has been renovated and is expanding with its McCafe add on. A few hundred applicants so it is a blessing that he was one of those who got the job. He wasn't very confident about getting the job but I was very confident he would get it! This father has more faith in his son than he has in himself? LOL The only concern now is how well he will be able to balance his time ... school work, MATES programme, church duties and youth committee duties and activities, girl friend :-) and his chores! Yup, he still has to do his chores as chores to me are an integral aspect of being part of this family!

I am happy that the work place is near enough for him to walk to after school though we will have to work out picking him up after work. Maybe we should charge him taxi fare! LOL! But part-time work I think is great for him as it will teach him the value of money (and save me some money too) and how to balance his time better and not waste time on too many frivolous activities; learn to work in a team etc. And the pay is good as well!

I hope Steven will learn to fully take over the yard work to earn extra money etc.

This week was pleased to see that all three of the articles submitted by our church STM members to Takeo has been featured in the latest GOWW newsletter. That STM was a blessing to all of us. Was also pleased to get an e-mail from Ritchie finding out that he is now a faculty member of Haggai Institute for this year. I think HI made a good choice in inviting him. And Dr. Haiwan is most likley going to come to NZ for a visit (work related). Am looking forward to having him come and stay at our home for a couple of nights. Pity he will not be able to bring in "Bak kua" to NZ. *sigh*

Beatles fans ... heads up. check out a new link I put on the sidebar (under "When really bored"). A musician pal Jimi (a fellow Beatles fan) sent the link to me. Really nice. Loads of Beatles videos, songs, lyrics and history.

About "A Hard Day's Night"

From the original Beatles Album "A Hard Day's Night" (1964)

RINGO 1964: "We went to do a job, and we'd worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came up still thinking it was day I suppose, and I said, 'It's been a hard day...' and I looked around and saw it was dark so I said, '...night!' So we came to 'A Hard Day's Night.'"

JOHN 1980: "I was going home in the car and Dick Lester suggested the title, 'Hard Day's Night' from something Ringo had said. I had used it in 'In His Own Write,' but it was an off-the-cuff remark by Ringo. You know, one of those malapropisms. A Ringo-ism, where he said it not to be funny... just said it. So Dick Lester said, 'We are going to use that title.' And the next morning I brought in the song... 'cuz there was a little competition between Paul and I as to who got the A-side-- who got the hits. If you notice, in the early days the majority of singles, in the movies and everything, were mine... in the early period I'm dominating the group. The only reason he sang on 'A Hard Day's Night' was because I couldn't reach the notes. (sings) 'When I'm home/ everything seems to be right/ when I'm home...' --which is what we'd do sometimes. One of us couldn't reach a note but he wanted a different sound, so he'd get the other to do the harmony."

PAUL circa-1994: "The title was Ringo's. We'd almost finished making the film, and this fun bit arrived that we'd not known about before, which was naming the film. So we were sitting around at Twickenham studios having a little brain-storming session... and we said, 'Well, there was something Ringo said the other day.' Ringo would do these little malapropisms, he would say things slightly wrong, like people do, but his were always wonderful, very lyrical... they were sort of magic even though he was just getting it wrong. And he said after a concert, 'Phew, it's been a hard day's night.'"

Friday, April 24, 2009

NZ's eskimo lolly "debate"

My post relates to a NZ Herald report (see below). Often I get confused as to why things bother people. I keep thinking to myself that this is another ridiculous PC issue that is overblown. Last night I watched on TV an interview with the only "genuine" Inuit NZer. For him, it is a nice thing to be known as an Eskimo. But am I missing something? Am I just plain insensitive?

I remember some years back how someone from US visiting Malaysia made "noise" about the Darkie toothpaste ... about how racist it was etc and it eventually became "Darlie" toothpaste

I found out here (and seen too in newspaper reports) that many people refer to European white Kiwis as "pakeha". But some do not like the term as they deem it derogatory. Others simply don't bother.

Anyway I found it ironic this report of an interview in a Canadian newspaper, the following ...

Seeka Veevee Parsons made headlines across New Zealand this week after complaining to a TV crew about the candies, which are shaped like a person bundled up in a furry parka and are sold in a bag bearing the picture of a smiling Inuk in front of an igloo.

Born in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and raised in Glovertown, N.L., Veevee Parsons said the word "Eskimo" was originally an insult meaning ``eater of raw flesh." As a child, she was teased and called a ``dirty Eskimo girl."

"I think the term 'Eskimo' can almost be related to the term 'savage' or 'Indian' or maybe even the 'n-word' for African-American people," she said in an interview earlier this week.

If you did not get that ... I wonder, isn't it also racist by her same understanding to use the term "Indian" in such a way?

I wonder whether we all have our PC blinkers on so tight, we have huge blind spots that make us ultra sensitve?

I know how some Europeans people in Malaysia just laugh and even jokingly call themselves "kwai loh". No issue for them. But then again I suppose it all depends on the context....

Canada joins 'racist' NZ Eskimo lolly debate

2:01PM Friday Apr 24, 2009
By Edward Gay
The NZ High Commissioner to Canada slammed online discussion of the  controversial marshmallow lolly. Photo / Martin Sykes

The NZ High Commissioner to Canada slammed online discussion of the controversial marshmallow lolly. Photo / Martin Sykes

News that a Canadian tourist has labelled a New Zealand marshmallow lolly as racist has sparked online feedback and even prompted New Zealand's high commissioner to comment in the Canadian press.

New Zealand's high commissioner in Ottawa, Kate Lackey, said she was disappointed at comments left in online forums, such as's Your Views section.

Commenting in a story published on the website Ms Lackey said comments made by Kiwis suggesting the tourist should go home are not acceptable.

"I would hope New Zealanders would be a bit more courteous and understanding," Lackey said.

"I'll probably get into trouble in New Zealand for saying such a thing, but often there's a sort of 'rednecky' element... The people who get on talk-back (radio) and stuff haven't had time to think through a bit more deeply how the other person might feel."

Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons, 21, an Inuit of the Nunavut Territory in Canada, said she was shocked when she found the Eskimo marshmallows for sale last week, saying they were an insult to her people.

The word Eskimo was unacceptable in her country and carried with it negative racial connotations, she told the Taranaki Daily News.

The correct term was Inuit, Ms Parsons said. "I was taken aback. When I was a little girl white kids in the community used to tease me about it in a bad way. It's just not the correct term," she said.

Ms Lackey said she doesn't see the controversy causing a political rift between New Zealand and Canada.

"You could hardly have two countries closer together in attitudes and values than Canada and New Zealand," Ms Lackey said.

Canada's Globe and Mail carried the story yesterday.

But many of the comments left by readers on the website are opposed to the Canadian tourist's complaint.

G. Hall wrote to the Globe and Mail to say: "Too Politically Correct... Don't people have anything better to do? Like solve the financial crisis and pull us out of the global recession?"

Bart described the complaint as embarrassing.

"Wow. I wonder if living in an isolated place live Nunavut caused her to not realise that when visiting a foreign land, one needs to bring an open mind, a sense of humour, and a degree of humility. I hope this was a momentary lapse of reason on her part and that she'll realise soon how silly she looks and makes us all look."

But not all comments posted to the site were negative towards Ms Parsons.

Sandy G. said: "I didn't realise that racism was so embedded in New Zealand. I had a completely different impression of the place."

On website, one reader said, referring to Ms Lackey: "At least here we have a New Zealander with a little common sense, and some feeling for the pain of the non-white. Of course the name of the candy should not be changed, but that doesn't mean Veevee Parson's feelings should be ridiculed."

Another reader suggested boycotting Cadbury for not changing the name.

"Cadbury head office is not based in New Zealand, so when they see the concern they can override the decision of New Zealand's Cadbury division."

Seven pleasures that keep me sane - a response

Ok,. here's a response to Sivin's post on "7 pleasures that keep me sane" and his mail on "friends in conversation"

1. Reading a good comic book. Thank God for the Waitakere library! :-)

2. Fooling around with some "magic" stuff

3. Experimenting with a new recipe for dinner (but it has to follow my "must be simple and everything done plus cleaning up in 45 minutes" rule).

4. Curling up in bed with my wife to watch one of our favourite TV shows.

5. Blogging

6. Fooling around with either my guitar or ukulele

7. .... will reserve the last one for another time. If I have to choose seven, I want to think longer about the last one :-)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The sack lunch - an inspirational story

This story came in an e-mail list (mostly jokes) ... so it was unexpected. I like it as I have been "promoting" finding ways of showing love to our neighbours (e.g. via my "Pastors Notes" column). I thought story was a great illustration.

The sack lunches

I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. "I'm glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap," I thought.

Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation. "Where are you headed?" I asked the soldier seated nearest to me.

"Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan."

After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch
would help pass the time.
As I reached for my wallet, I overheard soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. "No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till
we get to base."
His friend agreed.
I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch.

I walked to
the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill. "Take a lunch to all those soldiers." She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked
me. "My son was a soldier in Iraq; it's almost
like you are doing it for him.'

Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, "Which do you like best - beef or chicken?"
"Chicken," I replied, wondering why she asked.
She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class. "This is your thanks."

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. A man stopped me. "I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this." He handed me twenty-five

Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked. I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the
numbers only on my side of the plane.
When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand, and said, "I want to shake your hand."

Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of
kindness I never forgot." I was
embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.

Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five
dollars in my palm.
When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word.
Another twenty-five dollars!
Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base. I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five dollars."It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God Bless You."

Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for
our country. I could only give
them a couple of meals.
It seemed so little...

-- Author Unknown

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ramblings and some news links 01

Finished my Sunday sermon preparation!! Now only have to redo the ppt presentation. Decided to just limit myself to 4 slides this time.... :-)

Anyway to "reward myself" I caught up with some reading and world news and found a nice online newspaper (Irish independent news) via an article sent to me by "Dr. Haiwan".

The article he sent me was "The dark side of Dubai". Be warned, it is a long and very disturbing article. One of the most disturbing is the "legal slavery" upon which Dubai depends on.

Then another article caught my eye (in the Middle East section) ..

WOMEN were pelted with stones in Kabul yesterday when they mounted a rare street protest against a new Afghan law said to legalise marital rape.

That's as much terrible news I can handle for today ... so I quit reading anymore.... ok back to my sermon ppt

Ramblings on Kiwi made preaching forum - 3

First workshop I attended was entitled "How can the baton of biblical preaching be passed on to young people?"

Quite a few young people were there. Presenter was a doctoral student whose daughter (teenager) was very into preaching (all began during a mission trip). That was interesting.... as she had personal conflicts as she was from the older school (despite being a woman preacher) and more academically inclined where strong biblical exegesis is foundational for preaching.

Presentation was excellent in terms of exploring some of the hows and whys (which was her bigger issue) and a quick look at the general differences between "baby boomers, Gen-X and Gen-Y" and stuff like that.

One of the funny parts was her showing of this video ... Mrs. Beamish, a song by a duo Richard Stilgoe & Peter Skellern.

However in the end I was left rather disappointed as what I was looking for was not generalizations of things already known (true as they may be) like

1. Make the decision now that we want the next generation to preach.
2. Empower through mentoring, model and discuss and give opportunities etc
3. Intentionally skill build
4. Tell them we believe in them and the church needs to hear their voice

etc etc.

I was looking for examples of "models" as to HOW any particular church is actually doing this in a systematic way ... and how they have been seeking to handle some of the practical difficulties, a sharing of some success story etc ... even if it was a work in progress.

Somehow preaching is related to leadership development but developing new leaders is also quite different from developing a new generation of preachers. Developing a new generation of preachers has a different focus that I think needs to be seen both alongside and separate the general issues related to leadership development.

At the end of the forum during the 1.5 hours of "pizza assisted" brainstorming and reflection I pursued this question with a number of people and all I got was very generalized statements from "running a preaching seminar" and every church would have a different approach depending on its circumstances etc.

No arguments there BUT again, pretty frustrating as I wish someone would actually share specifics as to how all these general stuff can be put together.

I of course have my own ideas :-) but still too preliminary to share for many reasons. It's an idea cum work in progress for me that is pretty loose as a lot is depending on PRAYER and observing how God is moving ... and then interacting with what's happening in order to work out possible directions and plans. Perhaps I'd share on this one day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ramblings on Kiwi made preaching forum - 2

The opening address by Paul Windsor was entitled "Preaching within the borders of the book of Acts"

Like I mentioned in my first post on this topic, it was an excellent presentation. Wish he had more time. Basically he highlighted the fact that it is very unfortunate that too many people have accepted CH Dodd's oft quoted words (which is simply wrong) that "The New Testament draws a clear distinction between teaching and preaching ...teaching (didaskein) is in a large majority of cases ethical instruction (while) preaching (keryssein) is public proclamation of Christianity to the non-Christian world."

He went on to show how other scholars have shown that there were numerous "speaking" words of great variety in the NT which related to preaching. Kittel in TDNT for example mentions 33 words!

I thought the quote from Peter Adam (first time I have heard this scholars name and I will now pay special attention whenever I do hear his name) was really enlightening (and very encouraging as well) to me.

From his handout ....

In reality, in the New Testament we find "many different ministries of the Word." [Peter Adam, Speaking God's Words (IVP, 1996) 75].

There are (a) words of information: teach, instruct, point out, make known,. remind; (b) words of declaration: preach, proclaim, cry out, testify, bear witness, declare, write, read, pass on, set forth; (c) words of exhortation: call, denounce, warn, rebuke, command, give judgment, encourage, appeal, urge, ask; (d) words of persuasion: explain, make clear, prove, guard, debate, contend, refute, reason, persuade, convince, insist, defend, confirm, stress; and (e) words of conversation: say, speak, talks, answer, reply, give answer.

Rather than exclusivist or reductionist, we have something akin to the Olympic Rings - with more circles and more overlaps, creating a larger total space -

What I also liked was his pasting of a hand written note by a NT colleague. I have scanned in the note as I thought it added a nice personal touch

Again from his handout ...

a specific example Acts 17: 2-4 (Thessalonica)

[courtesy of a hand-written note to me from Dr Murray Harris when in Wanaka]
While no specific conversion stories survive from Thessalonica, what we find embedded in this story is a summary of Paul's evangelism as expressed through six verbs...

I found his 20 minute talk very liberating as I have always struggled with this false dichotomy of preaching and teaching. I have known for a long time that I am a teacher (due to feedback and the exhilaration I feel when I teach) but have wondered about whether I am a preacher. But over the last 4 or 5 years I have had a lot of feedback that realized that I am a "good" preacher but often with the caveat that I tend to do more teaching than preaching. Which is at times a little confusing. Though I must say that this kind of "qualification" tends to be made by "older Christians" or people who have done some reading on preaching :-) not the man in the street.

Then of course there is the "confusion" or more accurately in my thinking the "discomfort" felt when I teach or preach using a non conservative style. Some who have this "discomfort" if pushed would grudgingly admit things like "it was good" or "interesting" but not really true teaching or preaching. :-) And I am not even talking of stuff like drama, skits or "magic" :-) I am just talking about the "use of words".

Lots of food for thought ....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ramblings on Kiwi Made Preaching forum - 1

Thought I'd blog on yesterday's forum. It certainly was an interesting one for me though I must say I had mixed feelings in terms of enjoying it because :

1. I had a bad headache - taking panadol every 4 hours *sigh* It took a lot of energy to focus.

2. I did not know anyone there except one of the presenters (whom I had met almost 2 years ago) and one other participant (one of the senior lecturers in the missions department of Laidlaw College)

3. I felt that most people were not exactly friendly (due to the fact that they had their own cliques, which was fair enough) and I had come alone.

Just a handful made some effort to respond in friendliness to me.
a. A very senior man who was a lay preacher. Rambling on and on (like me! LOL ) when he sat down for lunch which got me confused as i had a headache ...
b. stand up comedian who works part time for his church as one of the preaching team members. (Yup- you read that right - and it was good to chat with him as I had actually been planning to call him next week to chat ... and he when I got back home, I found a letter from him and some brochures that he has sent a few days earlier!)
c. One of the presenters - a lecturer at Otago University (an American lady) - will blog more on her session another time.
d. A younger lady ... who was a visitor from Australia!! :-)

I found out later a possible reaaon - as it was organized by Carey Garduate School with Langham Preaching (former principal of Carey recently moved over to join Langham Preaching) and the advertisement was via a simple e-mail ato spread things by word of mouth, most participants were from the Baptist Churches. 220 people and I think less than 10% were non Baptists.

What was encouraging was that the age range was wide - my impression was that there were people from ealry twenties to their late seventies. Many were lay people and interested in preaching. What however I felt was lacking in this area is that 90% were European Kiwis. A sprinkling of Asians - one Indian guy stood out (but he had a Kiwi accent so I think he must have been born here or came here when very young). Harfdly any PI or Maori. One presenter was a Samoan (I( attended his workshop) and one was a Singaporean Chinese (here 4 years - this is one of the few people I knew - I had him over at omy place one night almost 2 years ago).

One PI presenter (a bishop?) had to cancel at the alst minute as he had to go abroad for a funeral (so his workshop was cancelled)

OK, some more general observations before I have separate posts on each workshop.

The idea of the seminar was more to be a forum than as seminar. All presenters were to be Kiwi for the context (so why was there an American presenter? I guess because she was lecturing at Otago for 2 years?). And it was to be a mix of old proven people and up and coming new people. I thought that was a good idea though I wonder about its effectiveness. More about that in another post ...

I thought that the organizers were trying to fit in too much. 45 minutes per topic was way too little time especially since there was often 10 to 15 minutes for responses (and in one workshop - 3 minutes??!)

The key note address was superb. A friend of mine Nick studied art Carey and speaks highly of him. Now I know why. His name is Paul Windsor and I think that it is a bit sad for Carey Graduate School that he Langham Preaching NZ. But then again I can see that he will be able to do a lot for the school as apart of his wider ministry. Again I will blog separately on his 20 plus minute message.

I bought 5 DVDs of various messages etc (series of lectures) done by Carey lecturers and I hope to view them one day soon. I think that they will help me with my "continuing Kiwi education". From a cursory look at the advert, some of these series were born out of their chapel messages. MBS And STM should consider this idea.

The forum / seminar sparked a lot of thoughts for me and I was glad I pushed myself to ignore my headaches and see it to the end ... including an optional 1 1/2 hour pizza assisted reflection for action time. Simply because it helped crystalize some of the things I have been wrestling with in the area of preaching and leadership development.

OK. off for dinner - another farewell for 2 church members leaving for Perth next week (*sigh* so sad).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Random ramblings and some stuff on preaching

It has been a fruitful week despite suffering headaches, some nausea and dizziness for a few days. Someone told me that "there's a bug going around" ... which is reason for praise as for me it has been on and off and no fever and major aches (which this person said will come). So three days already and I am pretty ok.

I am now ahead of time in my preparation for my next two sermons... YES!!! Got the outlines done etc for 26th April and 10 May :-) And tomorrow I will be away for the whole day for my first NZ preaching seminar cum forum - organized by Langham Partnership NZ (the NZ branch of John Sottt's Langham UK based organization) and Carey Graduate School. Looking forward to a good learning experience as the focus is

1. to encourage a biblical preaching that is rooted in this Aotearoa-NZ context
2. to probe the question faced by preachers in Aotearoa-NZ today and resource them with answers
3. to gather together both experienced and emerging preachers and make space for the synergies to flow.
4. to explore the possibilities for an ongoing focus of some king on Kiwi-made preaching

My chosen workshops out of 25!! OOhhh. so hard to choose as each session there are five workshops running concurrently and sometimes I want to attend two of the five! :-(

1. How can the baton of biblical preaching be passed on to young people?
2. With application, how does the preacher get beyond spoon feeding the text and enable a wrestling with the text?
3. How can being visual in the sermon include something more than using the data projector?
4. Must every single sermon from the Bible fins its way to Jesus?
5. How do we resolve the distinction between what they think they want and what we think we need?

I have been here over 2 years now and been preaching here for about 2 years now (since I was not preaching for the first few months) and it has been both a relief and an encouragement that I have had a lot of very positive feedback about my sermons and preaching.... from all sections of the church congregation.

But there is so much more to understand about the NZ context and so much more "continuing education" needed not just in terms of cultural issues and the new generation of Christians but also biblical issues. Perhaps I should consider taking a few formal classes next year? *shudder* not something I want to do again as 3 earned degrees has wiped out my enthusiasm for formal studies.

Nah, let me stick to reading and trying to find a small ministry support group. :-)
I am working for 2010 on forming a small group of people within my church who will work with me in helping me prepare my sermons. Sermon co-collaborators.:-) Will be tough to implement but something I think would be great in the long run for all of us and the church as well.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

film on food wastage and hunger

Elsie (from SU Malaysia) sent me this link. Thanks Elsie!

http://www.cultureu nplugged. com/play/ 1081/Chicken- a-la-Carte

I agree with her that it is something we all need to watch.

I remember growing up and having my mother tell us her children to eat up what was in front of us etc and when we were reluctant would add something along the lines of "Do you know how many people are starving in Africa and would be so grateful to eat your leftovers?"

Of course the impact of her words were often much reduced because it was not always given in the right context. Often, there was just too much food.

Today I find myself "preaching" the same sermon: "Don't waste food." "If you order, make sure you finish it!" "Don;t take what you cannot finish!" .... and a whole host of other admonitions!
I do this not just because of what my mother used to tell me but because I believe it to be a good principle.

I pray to God that when I see him I will not be found guilty of wasting food. I do hope that time will show that I have taught my children well in the area of being grateful for what food we have, not to waste any food and not to over eat.

I hope when they and others see this film, they will understand why I am so fussy that the leftovers be finished and not wasted and that we keep try to our meals simple and do not spend big bucks on luxury food (except for the special occasions).

My first skype "meeting"

Had a very interesting appointment today.... A lunch / breakfast meeting with some good ministry buddies from Malaysia. The four of us used to serve together as part of our seminary alumni committee. Patrick (NECF), Ron (New Life Restoration ..) and Franklin (used to Pastor an FGA church but is now a College lecturer). And it was nice too to have someone I really admire join us at the last minute Rev. Lai (former pastor, NECF and now with Focus on the Family).

Quite a privilege as the meeting was to catch up and have fellowship and afterward brainstorm on church leadership issues (Ron being the new chairman of NECF's leadership commission and Patrick being the NECF liason in this committee). They had their coffee and roti canai for breakfast while I had Fejoias and a pear for my lunch :-)

Quite interesting especially since Patrick kept having to move the video cam every now and then so I could see everyone's faces as they talked. Very interesting conversations :-) But also pretty complicated.

Mentoring ... inter-generational ministries, connecting to social responsibility.... informal mentoring, openness, discipleship, coaching ... LPI tool on personality. Nature, genes ..Marriage issues, young people,. Gen-Y, phases of life, rite of passage, encounter with God, leadership in church irrelevant? Missing passion? Needs of the local church?

Personality ... self knowledge ... identity ... self leadership....?

Aiyo sensory overload ... :-)

But praying together over video was a nice way to end ...

BTW, took these photos with my webcam ... something new to me :-)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

50 ways to love your neighbour (cross post)

This is a cross post ... just finished my pastor's notes for the bulletin and website and then thought ... hey, I should post this up on my blog too. Thanks Sivin for the link to the very practical article.


That was the eye catching title of an article on the Sojourners blog. Click here for the article.

But what does it mean to “love your neighbor”? And is it important? According to Jesus “loving your neighbor as yourself” is the second greatest commandment.

Matthew 22:37-39

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

So yes, it is important.

Michael Wilkins in his commentary on Matthew rightly says that it is helpful to go to the sermon on the Mount to see how Jesus understands “love”. I think he has it spot as he continues that:

“Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person in which one gives oneself to another to bring the relationship to God’s intended purposes. The person who loves God with all of her being — heart, soul, and mind — will understand that God’s will for her life is revealed in the Old Testament, and she will gladly, eagerly, obey it because she knows that in doing so, she is living life the way God has designed it to be lived. In turn, her obedience to God’s will transforms her entire being — heart, soul, and mind — into the image of God so that she is more like what God has intended for her to be like. Furthermore, loving her neighbor as herself means that she gives herself to other humans to help them live as God designed life to be lived, so that she helps them in their own transformation.”

As I read the article I thought to myself. Many are tough but they are practical and doable and some we can easily begin (if we have not already begun). Here’s just the first ten. What do you think?

1. Fast for the 2 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day.

2. Contact your local crisis pregnancy center and invite a pregnant woman to live with your family.

3. Ask your pastor if someone on your church’s sick list would like a visit.

4. Join an open AA meeting and befriend someone there.

5. Adopt a child.

6. Mow your neighbor’s grass.

7. Volunteer to tutor a kid at your local elementary school. (Try to get to know the kid’s family.)

8. Grow your own tomatoes – and share them.

9. Ask a small group in your community to meet regularly for intercessory prayer.

10. Build a wheel chair ramp for someone who is homebound. …

Just looking at the first ten suggestions, I thought to myself ...

No.1.... I remember how I used to skip lunch and give the lunch money to Malaysian CARE as part of the skip a programme to not just donate to help the needy but also learn to empathize with the poor by going hungry (which to the organizers was more important even if it meant getting less money).

No. 2 ... would be hard for me and not practical at this stage in my life.

No. 3 ... is something I do since I am the pastor! :-) But interestingly something I would like to see more members doing (as it has been only positive experiences for all when some members followed me for visitation!)

No. 4 ... not for me but being part of RMS was / is great and has a similar effect. Must drop by and visit the family soon!

No. 5 ... hey, just did that earlier this month :-)

No. 6 ... I think I best not do this! :-) I may kill the flowers as well. But I can see how this is something many younger ones could do.

No.7 ... I wish I had the time for this but who knows ... I may get a chance at this as part of a team if we can get our community projects going smoothly. Thursday night games is the seed bed for a variety of possible community projects. But we do need more manpower and commitment.

No. 8 ... I am the recipient of the fruits and vegetables of so many members! Thank you!!! I do hope that my small garden plot project will get off the ground next year.

No. 9 ... I am still dreaming that more will come to Monday night prayer meeting :-( Best place to start.

No 10. ... I can see how many members who are handy with tools could do this and more!

Do check out the blog article. I am sire you can come up with more than the 50 given. Many will not suit you but I am sure some would!!

God bless

Ramblings on what we wear to "church"

I found this post in Scott McKnight's blog interesting as of late I have been thinking about clothing and how I / we dress. It has come about due to a Ladies Meeting coming up soon where one member will be giving a talk on dressing (Fashion, colour coordination etc). As I make the announcements each Sunday, I could not help but think that living in NZ in a country where we have different seasons allows women (and men too) to have a greater variety of dress styles. And I do appreciate that that is a pleasant thing (to the eye)

Anyway here's McKnights' post first (at least his has spiritual content! :-)) and my reflections later ...


Faith in Jesus Christ implicates a person in his way of life. Here is a sketch, a caricature that delves at the same time in the depths of the ordinary:

James 2:2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Clothing matters in the world; clothing speaks. It speaks of status and wealth and power and strength and potential. And it clothing tempts church leaders and Christians into thinking that the well-dressed person would be of use and help to the church. The shabbily-dressed woman or man, the homeless, speak something else: no status and no wealth and no power and no strength and no potential. And it tempts church leaders and Christians into thinking that the shabby fellow is of no use.

A question: How does clothing speak in our churches today?
A point: how you treat the shabbily-dressed reveals whether or not you treat the person the way Jesus would treat them. He welcomes them. Do you?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sponsoring a child under CMCT

My Easter present to myself. I am now a sponsor of a child under CMCT, India :-)

I blanked out some of the info...

I like the way they do the write up and give me the info with a picture etc.

Have a blessed Good Friday and Easter!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Magic Show at a local kindergarten

I just got some photos that were taken of a magic show I did a month ago for a local Kindergarten.

First time I was doing a show for a kindergarten and did it as a favour for a friend. It was a lot of fun despite the fact that it was pouring cats and dogs that morning and I got soaked.

So it was quite ironic that my magic show was based around my water routine. Playing with water is always fun. :-)

The big smiles on the faces of the children and their laughter was definitely worth my time.

A pity that I do not have photos of my last show a week or so ago at the Baptist Church, Next time I must specifically ask someone to take photos for me.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

KCC's now 13 years old

The "new" Kelston Community Church (KCC) is now 13 years old. "New" because 13 years ago a group of Christians moved over from their church to merger with the former KCC, which was a "dying" church with a dozen members to form a new look church.

It was from what I understand and can see ... it was a great combination as the church grew slowly but surely.

The majority of the Christians who moved over were ex-Malaysian so this brought a Malaysian (truly Asia) flavour to the new KCC. Over time, we evolved to be a more international community... and this opened the door for me to come over as Pastor due to the international flavour. :-)
Today we have people who have roots in ... Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, India, Ghana, Zimbawe, Tuvalu (I think), China, Australia, Germany, Holland, UK and of course NZ.

Oh, we had two cakes because we also surprised one of our elders and his wife (it will be their 40th wedding anniversary next week)... some of you might know them - Albert and Sharon Low. They did not suspect a thing! hahaha we were really sneaky :-)

In the second photo, the guy giving ther speech - some night recognize him - one of our elders Robert Boey. And the one grinning in the background ... one of Uncle Saw Beng Chong's sons, another of our elders - Lye Chye.

T'was a good day :-)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sex slaves may be working in NZ, officials say

Not the nicest piece of news to read. But at least NZ officials are not "denying" the potential problem. Really sad that this is still happening around the world. Terrible to read that Malaysia supplies in this sex slaves trade.

Sex slaves may be working in NZ, officials say

4:00AM Saturday Apr 04, 2009
By Jared Savage
Fear of reprisals can stop victims from speaking up.

Fear of reprisals can stop victims from speaking up.

Immigration officials admit that women could be working undetected as sex slaves in New Zealand, despite previous assurances that there is no evidence of a problem.

The Cabinet will be asked to set up a taskforce involving seven Government departments to stop human trafficking in this country.

The action plan follows criticism in United States intelligence reports, which name New Zealand as a destination for traffickers from Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and other Asian countries.

Police and advocates for change believe it is likely the trade exists here and has become harder to detect since the liberalisation of prostitution laws in 2003.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show that advisers told Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman the critical comments about trafficking in New Zealand were "unsubstantiated".

The December 2008 briefing paper goes on to say there is no verified evidence to suggest trafficking is happening here, but New Zealand had the potential to be targeted.

"Similarly, there could potentially be cases of people trafficking in New Zealand that remain undetected,"the paper said. "People trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation is an evolving global phenomenon and New Zealand remains at risk."

Dr Coleman told the Weekend Herald there was no verified evidence that New Zealand was a trafficking destination, but conceded that the Government does not "assume immunity" to being targeted now or in the future.

He said the multi-agency action plan would increase training for enforcement officials to identify potential victims.

Intelligence on trafficking would be more readily shared, Dr Coleman said, as well as enhanced risk profiling for potential victims both at the border and in visa applications.

A United Nations report into trafficking criticised any country that had not prosecuted any human trafficking offences.

Two out of every five countries did not have a single conviction for human trafficking last year, according to the global study of 155 countries released last month.

"Many governments are still in denial," said United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime executive director Antonio Maria Costa.

"Either these countries are blind to the problem, or they are ill-equipped to deal with it, or both."

Public submissions on the Department of Labour-led action plan took exception to comments about the lack of evidence of people trafficking in New Zealand, noting that does not mean it is not happening.

Advocates and academics went so far as to say it was "implausible" to believe women and children were not being brought into the country to work as prostitutes, urging law enforcement to investigate the link with international organised crime syndicates.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, Auckland district field crime manager, said there was no evidence to back that up, but noted: "Human trafficking is about making money. Organised crime is about making money."

With a boom in the number of brothels in Auckland suburbs - many unregistered - and police no longer able to raid brothels without search warrants, Mr Beard said trafficking could be going on undetected.

Trafficked women are often brought into a country under false pretences of working in another industry, then exploited sexually to repay debt.

Travel documents and passports are confiscated by traffickers to force compliance, as well as threats of physical violence, reprisals and public exposure.

Those reasons, as well as language barriers, meant potential victims would be reluctant to come forward and lay a complaint with police, said Mr Beard.

"If no one knows where these brothels are, how do we know there's not women who have had their passports removed and are forced to work in prostitution?"

Susan Coppedge, a US federal prosecutor who spent a year in New Zealand studying trafficking, profiled three cases which occurred before the law changes in 2002 that would now be considered for trafficking prosecution.

The most high-profile one was the "pink sticker" campaign of 1999 where Thai women were held against their will in Auckland brothels.

The focus on the international Asian sex industry led the Human Rights Commission to use pink stickers to publicise a safe house and fast track repatriation with travel documents.

However, many of the victims returned to Thailand before their traffickers could be prosecuted.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Four people, one goal: 100kms in 36 hours

It's this weekend. I think I blogged about this in my now defunct Multiply blog.

Four people, one goal: 100kms in 36 hours

April 4 & 5, 2009 @ Lake Taupo

Oxfam Trailwalker challenges teams of four to walk or run 100kms through some of central North Island’s most spectacular terrain in 36 hours. Read more about it here.

If you feel generous, consider supporting one of these teams (there are many teams participating) ...

gossipgirls or Trailblazers

You just need to type the name in the box "Find a team" and hit search.

One of the gossipgirls Deboarah Teh (Christian) is a university student from my church and the Trailblazers team leader, Julia Bode (non-Christian) is a friend whom I worked with in our refugee family. I stress the "Christian" and "non-Christian" part so you know that Oxfam is not a Christian organization but I do think it is a good organization.

All the money goes to help the poor so it is no big difference which team you support but it does make a difference to the morale of the team to see money collecting!! :-) If you meet either Debs or Julia you would be supportive as they are two outstanding young people in their twenties.

For the curious, my financial support went to "Trailblazers" though my prayer support is for both teams to persevere and make it. Why "Trailblazers"? Simple they asked first a few months back. My sons of course supported the fundraiser for "gossipgirls". I am most pleased with that.

Here's the prayer request I sent out to my church members on behalf of Debs so if you want to send up a prayer too, I would be most glad!!

For those who are unaware, Debs will be doing the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker from 6am on Saturday till 5pm on Sunday with 3 of her friends (who aren't all Christian). Her team will be accompanied in Taupo by four support people including Ben and Jo. (Note: Ben is here brother and Jo is a church member)
Thank God that the bad cough Debs has had since Feb has gotten a LOT better in the past week, just in time.

Thank God also for friends who have been stunningly generous and fellow walkers who have been great company.
Pray that God will provide them the needed mental strength, physical protection and sustaining power, especially when they start to feel sleepy and tired, and when blisters set in and they have to climb hilly terrain in the dark.
Do pray that NZers will become more personally engaged in the issues of poverty, and that the money raises will be a blessing.
Thanks for praying

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

You can't be neutral wehn it comes to Jesus

Ok .. something a bit more sober ... been cross posting this. Something I wrote for this week's church bulletin.

Matthew 27:11-26:

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.
12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.
13 Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?"
14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge-- to the great amazement of the governor.
15 Now it was the governor's custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd.
16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas.
17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?"
18 For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him."
20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
21 "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered.
22 "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!"
23 "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!"
25 All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!"
26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Pilate knew Jesus was innocent. He knew this for a fact. He knew that it was out of envy that the Jewish authorities had handed Jesus over to be crucified (v.18). In addition, his wife had sent him a message warning him that she knew Jesus was innocent through a disturbing dream she had had.

So why did he did not set Jesus free?

The simple reason was that Pilate was more concerned for his political position. He was afraid that the crowd might get out of control and that he would have a riot on his hands. That would simply not look good on his resume and Caesar would be greatly displeased.

So he thought he would circumvent his moral convictions by being “neutral”. He left the decision to the crowd. He presented the illusion of being gracious and “neutral” by giving the crowd a choice of either setting Jesus or Barabbas free. But his actions did not fool anyone, not even himself. Pilate knew they would not choose Jesus but he was hoping that a small miracle would happen and Jesus might be released. It did not work and so he tried to make a big show of being neutral by symbolically “washing his hands” off any responsibility in the injustice of the matter.

But Pilate knew as did everyone that day and even today that by trying to be neutral, he was in fact endorsing the unjust crucifixion of Jesus.

We each are responsible for our decisions. Especially when it comes to Jesus we just can’t be say that we are "neutral". We can’t place the responsibility on others. Not to decide for Jesus is not to be neutral but to decide against Jesus.

Jesus said in Luke 11:23 "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.

Reasons churches don't ask clown ministries to return:

Got this in my mail today ... exaggerated of course as this doesn't actually happen ... at least not everything on the list :-) But I thought it funny

Reasons churches don't ask clown ministries to return

10.Pesky escaped balloons stuck to the Sanctuary ceiling for weeks after they've gone.

9.That cream pie in the music ministers face wasn't accepted in the fun spirit in which is was offered.

8. They force people to smile during the 8 a.m. service.

7. It's hard to say with dignity, "The sermon today will be given by Brother Umpa-Doody."

6. Whoopee cushions inevitably appear under pew cushions.

5. Sermons take a lot longer when they are presented in pantomime.

4. Many denominations do not recognize seltzer water baptism.

3. Those bottomless trick glasses the clowns snuck in during the communion service.

2. Church Janitors charge extra to get all of the silly string off the Sanctuary ceiling.

And the number one reason Churches don't invited Clown Ministries to return......

1. The kids popping their balloon animals during the closing prayer.